R 120118Z JUN 02
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO ALL DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR POSTS
SPECIAL EMBASSY PROGRAM
UNCLAS STATE 113328
VISAS, FOR CONSULS, ALSO FOR PAO''S
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: SEVIS and New Student and Exchange Visitor Forms
1. Summary: The Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security (USCIS) is beginning the implementation of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). SEVIS is an internet-based system that collects current information on nonimmigrant students and exchange visitors. SEVIS will be introduced as a voluntary system on July 1, 2002, and will become fully implemented and mandatory sometime early in 2003. This cable provides some background on SEVIS and serves as notification of a new version of the Form I-20 A-B/I-20ID, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status - For Academic and Language Students, Form I-20 M-N/I-20ID, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status - For Vocational Students, and the re-numbered Form DS-2019, the former IAP-66 - for exchange visitors. From now until SEVIS is mandatory, officers in the field will be receiving from student and exchange visitor visa applicants multiple versions of forms I-20 A-B, I-20M-N, IAP-66, IAP-66P and DS2019. All of these versions of the documents are acceptable until SEVIS becomes mandatory. At that time, only the SEVIS-compatible Form I-20 A-B/I-20ID, Form I-20 M-N/I-20ID, and Form DS-2019 will be acceptable.
2. The State Department is not yet linked to the SEVIS system; detailed instructions will be cabled to all posts prior to State''s linkage to the system. See para 5 for a brief description of how SEVIS will affect student (F, M and J) and exchange visitor (J) visa issuance. The main processing reform is that, under SEVIS, each F-2, M-2 and J-2 dependent will receive his or her individual Form I-20A-B, I-20M-N or DS-2019. End summary.
3. Background: SEVIS (the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) is an internet-based USCIS system that will track F, M and J visa participants from the time they receive their documentation until they graduate/leave school or conclude/leave program. The legislative mandate for SEVIS is Section 641 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-208), which requires that USCIS, in consultation with State and Education, establish a reporting and tracking system, preferably electronic, for collecting and maintaining data and information on foreign students and exchange visitors. Other significant legislative milestones are Public Law No. 106-396, which gave USCIS the responsibility for imposing and determining the amount of the mandated SEVIS user fee (currently deferred), and the USA PATRIOT Act of October 2001 (P.L. 107-56), which allots $36.8 million to support the nationwide deployment of SEVIS by the end of calendar year 2002. In addition, Part V of the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Reform Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-173) establishes a requirement for a transitional program of data sharing between schools and sponsors, the Department and USCIS to be in place 120 days after passage of the act, and the collection of certain data. Issues related to the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Reform Act will be addressed septel.
4. USCIS plans to launch SEVIS as a voluntary interactive website on July 1, 2002. Batch-mode enhancement, enabling schools to transfer information through software linkages, is due by fall. Academic institutions'' participation in SEVIS at first will be voluntary; according to USCIS draft regulations currently in the comment period, participation will be mandatory on January 30, 2003. (The academic community likely will request more time; ECA will issue separate regulations establishing a compliance date for exchange visitor programs.) Once SEVIS participation is mandatory, all I-20s and DS 2019s will have to be printed from SEVIS to be valid.
5. The SEVIS internet-based application will be accessible by USCIS, DOS, certified schools and certified sponsors. The SEVIS database will collect and make accessible to authorized users the major events associated with international students'' and exchange visitors'' status, from the issuance of I-20 or DS-2019 forms through visa application and issuance to graduation/departure from the U.S./change of status. Data pushed from the SEVIS database to the field will allow consular officers to confirm I-20 and DS-2019 provenance. Upon visa issuance, existing DOS-USCIS data share links will be used to record that event to the SEVIS database. End background.
6. Until the use of SEVIS is mandatory, consular officers and academic advisors in the field, as well as USCIS inspectors at the ports of entry, will receive multiple versions of the basic forms that indicate eligibility for student and exchange visitor status. All of these versions are valid until the SEVIS mandatory compliance date.
7. With respect to the F and M student visas, the SEVIS-compliant versions of the I-20 are the Form I-20A-B/I-20ID, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status - For Academic and Language Students, and Form I-20M-N/I-20ID, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status - For Vocational Students (hereafter referred to as the "SEVIS I-20"). The SEVIS I-20 will no longer be a two-page form with a student copy and a school copy. Rather, the SEVIS Form I-20 will have only the student page. The SEVIS Form I-20 will contain a two-dimensional (2D) bar code on the right hand corner of the form, and will have the word "SEVIS" printed above the bar code. Dependents will each have their own SEVIS Form I-20. The student copy of the SEVIS Form I-20 should be endorsed in the same manner as is currently done and returned to the student. In instances of travel a student with a SEVIS Form I-20 will have a separate page for the DSO (Designated School Official) signature authorizing travel.
8. In addition to the new SEVIS Form I-20 and the "traditional" Form I-20, officers will also encounter, and should accept, earlier-version Forms I-20-P (as well as IAP-66-P) issued by the twenty-one Coordinated Interagency Partnership Regulating International Students (CIPRIS, an earlier version of SEVIS) pilot schools and exchange programs in the southeastern United States. Form 1-20-P is a single page, blue or white form. Officers also will encounter Forms I-20 from the ten SEVIS test schools and programs located in the Boston, Massachusetts area. See para 12 for a list of these schools and exchange programs.
9. Officers will also encounter multiple versions of the form IAP-66/DS-2019 for exchange visitors. The paper Form IAP-66 - Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status: the 4-page color-coded (white, yellow, pink and green) document that has been in place for many years. J-1 program sponsors have been instructed to exhaust existing stocks of IAP-66 forms before using the new DS-2019. Form DS-2019 will exist in two formats until such time as the Department requires all program sponsors to participate in SEVIS. The paper Form DS-2019 is a 4-page color-coded (yellow, white, pink, and green) document. The content of the form is identical to the form IAP-66. However, the following changes have been made: 1) The form reflects the Department of State rather than the United States Information Agency; 2) the letter prefix in the upper right hand corner of each form is "G"; and 3) the order of the colors has been switched with the yellow copy on top, followed by the white, pink and green copies. The handling of the non-SEVIS version of the DS-2019 is no different from the way the Form IAP-66 is handled today, the white copy is for the USCIS, the yellow is for the Department, and the pink is for the J-1 visitor.
The electronic Form IAP-66-P that was used in CIPRIS: this is a one-page document.
The electronic Form DS-2019 that will be used in SEVIS: this is a one-page document that contains a two-dimensional (2D) bar code in the top, right hand corner. Dependents will each have their own SEVIS Form DS-2019. The form differentiates the J-1 participant and the J-2 dependent by indicating the appropriate status (J-1 or J-2) above the bar code. The form issued to the J-2 will include the name of the J-1 primary.
10. J-2 dependents: the concurrent validity of multiple versions of Form IAP-66/DS-2019 has implications for the admission of J-2 dependents. The process currently utilized to admit dependents of J-1 exchange visitors documented with the IAP-66 or the paper form DS-2019 involves the sponsor attaching a list of dependents (typed on their letterhead) to the IAP-66/DS-2019. Dependents of J-1 exchange visitors documented with the IAP-66-P may have their own IAP-66-P. However, for any J-2 dependent so documented after the close of the CIPRIS pilot program, the sponsor may attach a list on their letterhead to the principal alien''s IAP-66P as described above. Once implemented, SEVIS will generate individual Forms DS-2019 for both the J-1 and J-2 categories.
11. When SEVIS is initially implemented all J-2 forms will reflect "Begin new Program" for initial entry including situations where the J-2 is entering separately following the J-1 primary. This will be corrected in a subsequent release of SEVIS.
12. CIPRIS and SEVIS pilot schools:
CIPRIS PILOT SCHOOLS
BOSTON SEVIS TEST SCHOOLS AND EXCHANGE PROGRAMS
13. Minimize considered.